Monday, June 14, 2010

76. Chicken and Dumplings, A Thousand Words

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words...the detail of a photograph can enchant, uplift and when it comes to a picture of food...actually cause one to salivate. At the other end of the enticement spectrum, however, I have seen pictures of food on television and highway billboards that often promote extreme burgers...or fried chicken, stacked together with cheese and bacon inserted here and there. I don't know whose palates are tempted by those ads, but they make me cringe. All I can think of is artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.


I like pictures of food that are at least somewhat healthful and not geared toward a glutinous appetite. I like wonderful pictures of food even more when they are accompanied by a recipe. I found such a picture one day while waiting in a doctor's office...the magazines on hand were a pitiful collection geared toward hunting, fishing, and other sports. At the bottom of the stack was an old copy of some women's magazine. As I flipped through its worn pages, a picture of chicken and dumplings stopped me. I loved everything about it. I read the ingredients in the recipe and they sounded like something I would love to eat on after a really tough day; I wanted to rip out the page and take it home.

As I looked around the room at the other patients, I somehow thought that they could tell I was thinking about becoming a page-thief. Burdened by my conscience, I rushed to copy down the recipe and finished just as my name was called by the receptionist. I pushed the piece of paper into my bag and, as life got in the way, completely forgot about it.

Months later, I found that piece of  paper again...what a happy day! I have altered the recipe here and there to fit my tastes...it is lighter than a winter pot pie...but, just as comforting...



Diane's Chicken and Dumplings











1 ¼ lb chicken
Salt/pepper
Oil
4 large carrots, sliced
3 large celery stalks, sliced
1 med. sweet onion chopped
1 qt. free range chicken broth
Poultry Seasoning
1 C peas

1/8 tsp salt
½ C flour
½ tsp baking soda
2 T oil  or 2 T Smart Balance margarine
¼ C milk

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and brown in 1 T oil (med-high heat), salt and pepper to taste. Remove to another plate. Add 1 T more oil to pan. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute for 5-7 min. Add broth and poultry seasoning to taste and stir. Turn down heat to simmer. Add chicken to broth mixture. Cook 2 min. Add peas and cook 1 min. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and chicken to a bowl and keep warm. Taste and adjust seasonings in broth mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, soda, 1/8 tsp salt together. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Stir in milk to make a dough. Drop dough into broth by tsp. Cover and simmer 3-5 min. Some of the dumpling mixture will separate and this will thicken the broth slightly.

Put chicken and vegetables in serving bowls and divide broth and dumplings to the top of each portion.

The vegetables will be tender-crisp and flavorful. This wonderful, comforting dish is not heavy...perfect for even warm weather enjoyment. Store the leftover sauce separately from the chicken mixture.


                                            


Leftovers:  Melt 1 T of margarine in a pot and add chicken mixture. Stir well as mixture heats. To the sauce, add 1/2 can chicken broth seasoned with poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Make a second batch of dumplings if necessary. Pour hot sauce and dumplings over servings of the hot chicken and vegetables.The leftover meal will be as tasty as the original.

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